|Jacoby Ellsbury shatters his bat in the first inning. A piece struck clubhouse manager Tom McLaughlin. (Steve Nesius/Reuters)|
Agent Boggs wades right in
FORT MYERS, Fla. — John Boggs, the agent for Red Sox first baseman Adrian Gonzalez, arrived here last night and is expected to meet with general manager Theo Epstein in the coming days.
Boggs characterized the visit as “just a meeting to touch base with Theo and discuss the progress of Adrian.’’
Gonzalez is entering the final year of his contract and is due $6.3 million this season. The Sox agreed to trade four players to the Padres for Gonzalez in December without first agreeing to an extension.
At the time, both sides said they had made progress on a deal and understood what it would take to complete the negotiations. The new contract is expected to be for seven years and in excess of $150 million.
Not coincidentally, it benefits the Sox financially to wait until after Opening Day before finalizing the deal.
Major League Baseball’s competitive balance tax is calculated on the average annual value of contracts as of Opening Day. By delaying a formal agreement with Gonzalez, the Sox would remain close to the tax threshold of $178 million.
The Sox paid $1,487,149 in tax last season. They would be taxed at 30 percent on any amount they exceed the limit this year.
Gonzalez repeatedly has said he expects to reach an agreement with the Sox and has no plans to enter free agency.
Caution for McDonald Outfielder Darnell McDonald left the 4-1 loss against the Phillies in Clearwater, Fla., after lining to second in the second inning.
He felt pain in his right thumb and manager Terry Francona didn’t want to take any chances.
“He’s fine,’’ Francona said. “He took that one swing and his thumb just puffed up on him a little bit. He wanted to stay in and I didn’t want to undo a really good spring.’’
McDonald will take today off and the team has a day off tomorrow. He had surgery to repair a torn ulnar collateral ligament in that same thumb after last season.
“That’s why I wanted to get him out of there,’’ Francona said. “He said it’s been a little bit sore for the past week.’’
More struggles Jonathan Papelbon had another rough outing, this time against a Tampa Bay Single A squad at the minor league complex in Fort Myers.
Papelbon threw 28 pitches over 1 1/3 scoreless innings, only 14 for strikes. He allowed two hits and a walk.
Papelbon’s fastball registered at 91 miles per hour, he bounced a couple of changeups, and he constantly was adjusting the mound. His delivery never seemed fluid.
Papelbon, who did not speak to reporters afterward, started the game and was relieved by Daniel Bard with one out in the second inning and a man on first base.
Bard allowed four hits and one run in one full inning of work. He was throwing his fastball at 96 m.p.h., but he lamented that he lacked the adrenaline he normally feels in a regular-season game.
“Aside from fastball command, I threw my offspeed pitches really well,’’ Bard said. “Never quite got the fastball down and away like I wanted to.
“There were probably two, maybe three, plays behind me that would have been made by major leaguers. Overall, it was just another day’s work. I always pitch better when I’m a little bit amped up.’’
Bard thinks he will throw again in a regular game in Fort Myers and he’s also scheduled to throw an inning in the exhibition game in Houston.
“I’ll probably get that adrenaline rush more in that one,’’ he said.
Felix Doubront threw 30 pitches and Bobby Jenks 17 in a simulated game on the back field of the main stadium.
“Everything felt great,’’ said Jenks, who is scheduled to pitch an inning against the Rays tonight.
Ortiz getting ready Roy Halladay hadn’t allowed a hit until David Ortiz singled in the fourth inning, driving a pitch to center field. He is 11 of 41 (.268) in spring training with two doubles and one home run.
“He has looked for the most part really good,’’ Francona said. “There’s been days when he’s gotten a little out of synch. But saying that, everybody does because they don’t play every day. He’ll have one day when he really swings the bat well then he sits for a day.
“There’s no way you’re going to keep your swing intact when you don’t play every day.’’
Ortiz has gotten off to slow starts the last two seasons and has asked Francona for extra playing time this week as the season approaches.
He volunteered to ride the bus yesterday, a 2 1/2-hour trip from Fort Myers.
“I’m sure he’d like to shut everybody up,’’ Francona said. “From where I sit, I hope he does. It would make my life a lot easier.’’
A scary moment The first hitter of the game against the Phillies, Jacoby Ellsbury, shattered his bat while grounding back to the mound. Pieces flew into the Red Sox dugout and one struck clubhouse manager Tom McLaughlin, cutting his nose. “It’s amazing what some people will do to get on TV,’’ Francona joked. But nobody was laughing at the time. “I was actually scared when he dropped his head,’’ Francona said. “I thought he was hurt.’’ McLaughlin started with the Red Sox in 1986 as a bat boy and joined the clubhouse staff in 1988 . . . Infielder Drew Sutton, a minor league free agent, had a sacrifice fly to drive in the only run for the Sox. He is hitting .318 with seven extra-base hits and six RBIs.
Nick Cafardo reported from Fort Myers, Fla., and Peter Abraham from Clearwater, Fla.